NC state employee minimum wage to be set at $15 an hour

Nearly 9,000 state employees, including many at Western Carolina University, would see an increase in their paychecks with the minimum salary at more than $31,000. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

North Carolina was expected to become the first state to set a $15 minimum wage for most state workers after the state budget became law Tuesday.

Nearly 9,000 state employees would see an increase in their paychecks with the minimum salary at more than $31,000.

"I'm excited for those individuals, impacting 163 staff and faculty members at [Western Carolina University], and that's huge," Mandy Dockendorf, staff senate chair at Western Carolina University, said. "I think everybody always wants better compensation."

Dockendorf said the wage increase would affect nearly 10 percent of the staff at WCU.

"Our housekeepers, technicians, those type of individuals," Dockendorf said.

On average, Dockendorf said, affected employees at WCU could expect to see about $2,977 each per year.

Dockendorf said more money means a lot for not just those employees, but also their families.

"[The raise would give] them better opportunity for their children to have a better education. Childcare is a big issue with a lot of our staff and faculty. So, giving them a little bit more support will help them feel a little bit more comfort and ease in their day-to-day living," Dockendorf said.

Meredith Whitfield, director of external relations for WCU, said the community around WCU would also be positively affected by the wage increase.

"Restaurants will see the impact and stores will see the impact when people have more money in their pocket," Whitfield said.